Iowa Republicans were eager to cynically exploit the death of 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts once news broke that her admitted killer was a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Not surprisingly, none were more brazen than Congressman Steve King, whose Facebook campaign page shared a meme that included images of Tibbetts and her alleged murderer alongside the message, “In November, remember all the murdered Americans, and the illegal aliens that the Democrats care about more than they want to protect you.”
Around the same time in late August, King also tweeted an image with statistics conflating violent crime rates among young men and illegal immigration to promote the debunked myth that undocumented immigrants commit violent crimes at a higher rate than US citizens. (King repeated his argument in a interview Wednesday with the Ames Tribune, when he also dismissed the view of a cousin of Tibbetts’ that “male entitlement” was a factor in her death.)
As ThinkProgress noted this week, the timestamp on King’s tweet indicated that he posted it from Vienna, Austria, home to the far-right, nationalist Freedom Party whose members he’s met with in the country and also in Washington DC during President Trump’s inauguration. The party was founded by former Nazis, including a former member of Hitler’s SS, in the 1950s, and has long been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism.
King did not respond to requests for comment to confirm if he was, indeed, in Austria at the time he posted the tweet. But, as ThinkProgress noted: “According to Congressional Records, King made four congressional trips to Austria between December 2013 and early 2017 — more than any other country during that period. His last documented congressional trip was for two days in late February 2017. Prior to that, he visited the country in October 2016, December 2014, and December 2013. The number of private excursions King has made to the country is unknown.”
The Informer has previously covered King’s interest in Austria’s far right. Take a look at those stories by clicking the links below:
Austrian Party Close to Steve King Proposes Requiring Jews and Muslims to Register to Buy Meat — July 21, 2018
Steve King Met with Leaders of Trump-Friendly Austrian Party with Nazi Roots — December 23, 2016